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Dr. Binks Blog

Is quitting smoking worth the risk of weight gain?

Posted on October 29, 2012 by admin

Many people use food to deal not only with stopping smoking, but also with cutting back on alcohol, coping with anxiety or depression, or more generally to cope with the stresses of daily life.  This can certainly add to the number on the scale.

However, most experts agree that a few pounds of weight gained do not wipe out the serious health advantage to quitting smoking, but we also know that gaining beyond a few pounds can add additional health risks and give your self-esteem a hit too. So let’s talk about what you can do to manage cravings without turning to food.

Sometimes the cravings that develop when stopping smoking are related to physical withdrawal from nicotine. At other times these cravings are more generalized and go beyond the direct physiological impact of removing the nicotine from your system, particularly when we have used smoking as a way to relax or reduce stress. So today let’s focus on these two separate issues.

First, in the case of physical withdrawal from nicotine, it is important to recognize the value of using nicotine replacement products in the battle to stop smoking. Keep in mind there are also several other non-nicotine pharmaceutical interventions that have been found to be very effective in helping people to stop smoking that may also help with managing those cravings. So talk with your healthcare provider about what options are best for you.

Second, learn some solid behavioral techniques for managing your cravings. Keep in mind that your cravings (whether for food, alcohol, or nicotine) follow a specific pattern of increasing intensity; then they will peak, and if you don’t “feed” them with your thoughts or actions, they’ll eventually dissipate.

So when you start to feel a craving coming on, try the following strategies:



Over time as you apply these techniques and improve your ability to handle emotional situations without turning to food or other substances you will find that the number of cravings you have to deal with will reduce and you will no longer have to work so hard to manage them.


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